x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Organisers foresee no problem with supporters

The prospect of thousands of British football fans roaming the streets and drinking alcohol during the Club World Cup is not one that worries the organisers unduly.

A woman signals her preference after Manchester United won the Fifa Club World Cup in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in December.
A woman signals her preference after Manchester United won the Fifa Club World Cup in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in December.

ABU DHABI // The prospect of thousands of British football fans roaming the streets and drinking alcohol during the Club World Cup is not one that worries the organisers unduly. "We see crowd problems all over the world," said Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, president of the Football Association. "The tournament security plan will deal with all these issues."

Speaking at the formal unveiling of the competition's logo at Zayed Sports City Stadium, he acknowledged that the capital will be packed with supporters from different cultures when it hosts the tournament in December. "Football is about humanity, respect and fair play," he said. "Whoever comes here to support their teams will have to respect the customs and traditions of this country. They can have whatever they want in the right places. I don't think we will have a problem with British fans drinking in the right place and in the right manner."

Four English clubs remain in contention for the European Champions' League, the winner of which will take part in the Club World Cup, joined by the champions of Asia, Africa, Oceania, Latin America, North America and a team from the Emirati league. If an Emirati team wins the Asian Champions' League, the runner-up in that competition will also take part. Jérôme Valcke, general secretary of Fifa, the sport's governing body, said the organisation would work with football associations in its member countries to prevent known troublemakers among fans from travelling to Abu Dhabi.

"Security is always a top priority for us," he said, adding that he did not foresee widespread drunkenness. "I hope that's not the only way to enjoy a football match. If the event were being held in Germany you might see beer tents, but people have to adapt to where they are. There will be orange juice and it will be a healthy event." Mr Valcke said Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup would help develop football in the Gulf region even if it ultimately failed.

tspender@thenational.ae